Blaxploitation History Month Review #1: Coffy

Michelle begins Blaxploitation History Month with her review of the revered Pam Grier classic.

"You just messed with
the wrong fro!"
I have to start this review out right and say that Pam Grier is one bad ass lady. The black woman is one of the most marginalized parts of our society, but you wouldn't know it by watching Ms. Grier at work. Coffy is a "girl power" movie, but not in the usual way you would expect. For those of you not familiar with the Blaxploitation genre, it's usually full of drugs, pimps, naked girls (of all races), crooked cops, groovy soundtracks and Kung Fu fighting. Coffy has all of these things, but with the rare addition of having a strong female lead kicking ass and taking names.

Pam Grier plays a vigilante nurse with the nickname of "Coffy" who gets entangled with the seedy underworld of drug pushers to avenge her drug addled sister. They don't really give too much back story but that is common with these types of films and honestly, the plot isn't too important in this instance.  What is important is the raw emotion that is on display. Coffy isn't there to ask why bad things happen--she is the Angel of Death and is here only to exact retribution on the evil doers.

There is just something therapeutic about watching her blow away the bad guys with a shotgun while looking sexy at the same time.  Seduction is Coffy's greatest weapon and she uses it with cunning and agility.  I found myself mentally pumping my fist when men thought they were taking advantage of her when in actuality they were just falling into her trap.  Of course, there is an air of exploitation pervasive throughout the film and they are not shy about showing breasts at any given opportunity, but that's inherent in the genre and part of the allure. The sleaziness and lack of political correctness is why I love these films and I wouldn't have it any other way. Surprisingly, the film is well shot and looks great which is not common for these types of flicks.

Blaxploitation films exist in this strange grey area between glorifying and condemning the worst black stereotypes. They are definitely a product of a turbulent era and it's interesting to see how far we have come with portraying black people as a whole. Coffy is definitely the cream that rises to the top and should be on any cult film enthusiast's list.

- Review by Michelle Kisner